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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Digital cheating

What's the academic world coming to? "In January 2003, the University of Maryland ... failed a group of accounting students for using cellphones to receive text-message answers during a test. In England last summer, proctors caught 254 secondary-school students illicitly using cellphones during tests," the Wall Street Journal reports. The article also cites Chinese students facing criminal charges of stealing state secrets because they were texting answers to a national college-entrance exam and other cheaters in Ireland, South Korea, New Zealand, and Canada. So schools are considering countermeasures - technologies that disable the camera function on cellphones, automatically reroute incoming calls to voicemail and block outgoing calls, or detect calls within a 90-foot area and sound an alarm. Few schools are actually testing these technologies, the Journal says, but they know about them and some are considering using them as deterrents. Besides, some schools believe "low-tech cheating schemes, which can be combated only with astute proctors, remain a bigger problem." Pathetic examples of the low-tech variety: Test takers carving exam answers into pencils or lining up M&Ms on a desk color-coded for multiple-choice questions. For more on this, see "Net-enhanced plagiarism" and "Teachers & Net plagiarism."


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